Sunday, September 20, 2020

My Connection to a Campground

Twenty years ago today, I received the sad news. Five days before, an internationally known minister had died of cancer. This same minister had performed a wedding for me months earlier. That marriage didn’t last. Nevertheless, it connected me with a ministry that continued to impact my life.

Back in early 2000, my then-fiancée and I drove from Minnesota to Calvary Pentecostal Tabernacle in Ashland, Virginia (just north of Richmond). This Christian campground hosts revival meetings throughout the year where guests can stay free of charge. The director at that time was Ruth Heflin, the daughter of founders Wallace and Edith Heflin.

A few weeks before while attending Brownsville Revival meetings in Pensacola, Florida, Ruth Heflin’s name kept coming up in conversations I had with people. At the time I didn’t know who this woman was. Meanwhile, Sister Ruth held meetings in Minnesota that my soon-to-be fiancée attended. So after hearing her talk about Ruth Heflin, I knew there was a reason God kept bringing this minister’s name to my attention. 

I found out Sister Ruth traveled to foreign countries by faith. She would pack her bags and trust God to provide the finances without asking anyone for help. The money always came in at the last minute. God had been doing the same thing with my missionary trips! Learning about Ruth Heflin’s ministry encouraged me since other missionaries I knew worked regular jobs, had an organization supporting them, or sent out fundraising letters. 

My fiancée and I attended the first few days of CPT’s Winter Campmeeting. During which, we got a marriage license and then asked someone in the campground office if there was a minister available to marry us. We were instructed to talk to Ruth Heflin herself. Her response was, “Let me think about it over the weekend.” Three nights later, Ruth offered to perform a wedding ceremony for us the following afternoon.

After honeymooning in Florida, my new wife and I returned to CPT for the final weekend of Winter Campmeeting. We were then offered jobs in the tape ministry in exchange for living there long-term. Unfortunately, my wife had personal issues and refused to receive counseling. She soon left me and went back to Minnesota. Campground leaders then advised me to do the same. Despite doing everything possible to reconcile with my wife, she filed for divorce.

Meanwhile, God continued leading me back to CPT to attend both their Summer and Winter campmeetings. At first, it was uncomfortable showing up there without my wife. Nevertheless, I was willing to work in the tape ministry again. That door didn’t open for me. Instead, the Lord provided places to live in Northern Virginia and in Richmond. Although I didn’t own a car, rides became available to make frequent visits to Ashland.

My faith was strengthened by listening to numerous speakers at Calvary Campground. Among them were Joshua Mills, Bobby Hogan, Russ Moyer (who I originally met in Pensacola), and current camp director Jane Lowder. Personal prophecies I received at CPT encouraged me to remain on the mission field. The late David Alsobrook once prophesied that God was sending me “…to the north, and the south, and the west.” I already planned on going back to Minnesota and then to Florida. The “west” part surprised me. The Lord gradually led me to travel to Alabama, Texas, and then to California.

Often I was assigned to stay in the men’s dormitory at CPT. Sometimes I didn’t sleep well because of other guests talking late at night. Still, there was good fellowship as I got to meet believers from all over the world. One time a minister from Germany stayed in the dorm with me. The following year, I taught an evangelism seminar for a house church in Germany. My translator happened to be that German minister I met the year before!

It was also in the men’s dorm I met another missionary named John Loewen. We first crossed paths during the 2000 Winter Campmeeting. The following winter, I met a young man named Rigo. Later that year, the three of us were placed in the same room during a men’s convention. We eventually made a few road trips together. In 2007 while having breakfast in the dining room, I met a retired government worker who offered to let me live in his house near Washington, DC. Jim and I have since done some traveling together as well.

God has used me to minister to others at CPT. Once I led a homeless man staying there to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Another afternoon while walking around Ashland, a man driving a van stopped to ask if I knew where the library was so he could check his e-mail. I had just left the library because their Internet service wasn’t working. This man drove me back to the campground. It was there that he prayed with me to receive salvation.

In recent years, I haven’t gone back to Calvary Campground that much but still showed up for part of Winter Campmeeting. After a partial shutdown due to COVID-19, the camp is resuming weekend meetings again. So if you need spiritual refreshment plus lodging and have the means to get to Virginia, I encourage you to visit Calvary Campground. You will be blessed!

“the sojourner has not lodged in the street; I have opened my doors to the traveler.” - Job 31:32

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